We take our medicine quite seriously. Historically speaking, going to the movies has always made us feel better. During the Great Depression roughly 60% of Americans, on average, attended the cinema once a week. [With the advent of TV this percentage has hovered around 10%.] In the 1930s we laughed at Charlie Chaplin and were enchanted by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz while falling in love with Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind. Movies helped us forget about the pain of the real world.
In our days of uncertainty going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows might be just what the doctor ordered. Based on the seventh and final book of J.K. Rowling this two-part movie finale finds Harry, Ron and Hermione in search of Voldemort’s vital horcruxes. In these horcruxes Voldemort has hidden pieces of his soul. As long as these horcruxes remain Voldemort stays immortal.
This sounds a lot like our United States Constitution. Its immortality seems to defy reason. When wondering how our governing document has survived for as long as it has one first must discover its horcruxes. Buried deep inside our constitution students of government will find the secrets of its immortality.
First is the concept of separation of powers. The founding fathers saw to it to dilute government power at every instance. The best safeguard of our liberty is to divide government power into three branches. The power of the purse and the power of the sword should be in different hands. The President might send troops to far away places but the Congress through its budget can limit the duration. The Courts can decide outcomes when legal questions arise.
Second is the concept of checks and balances. Checks and balances allow each branch of government to negate or limit what the other branches are doing. If the President acts out of order the Court can practice judicial review and declare such actions unconstitutional. Members of Congress are held accountable through a President’s veto.
Third is federalism. The dilution of power did not stop at the national level. The founding fathers saw fit to divide wherever they could. We also divide power between national, state and local governments. Federalism is another firewall used to protect our liberty.
And the final horcrux is popular sovereignty. The most important source of our government’s seemingly immortal standing is that ultimate authority is found in the people. From the greatest to the least and to those with the highest and lowest stake all citizens have a voice in our government. We the people are responsible for our own survival. The natural instinct of self preservation helps to explain why our constitution endures.
The immorality of our constitution will depend upon the preservation of these four horcruxes. Our longstanding form of government and the way of life it promotes is rooted in the separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism and popular sovereignty. In the darkness of our age the immutability of the United States Constitution may be the tonic we are looking for. Used as medicine, our constitution can help cure what is ailing us.
Have a spoon full of sugar handy just in case.